Grey N.Y. Adds Top Creative Teams

New hires from Anomaly, TBWA, Goodby

It’s been a good year for Grey New York with new business wins like Gillette, and the agency is bolstering its creative ranks by making new top hires from Anomaly, TBWA\Chiat\Day and Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which is losing the creative team recently imported to launch the agency's new office in New York.

Derek Barnes and Lisa Topol are joining as executive creative directors and will run the WPP agency’s NFL, Pringles, Downy and TBS/TNT accounts. Barnes was previously creative director at Anomaly on the global Budweiser account, and before that was at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland and N.Y., working on Nike, Miller beer, Diet Coke and ESPN. Topol comes from TBWA\Chiat\Day N.Y., where she was a group creative director on Pepsi, Bird’s Eye, Kahula and Wheat Thins. She has also worked at the New York offices of JWT, W+K and Ogilvy.

Grey has also hired Steve Wakelam and Nick Pringle as group creative directors who will oversee Febreze, Ally and Procter & Gamble’s global corporate account. The two were a founding creative team brought over from Australia this spring to help open Goodby’s new Manhattan office. They previously worked at DDB Sydney, producing Cannes award-winning work on Volkswagen. Wakelam is currently ranked as the No. 1 creative exec in Australia by Campaign Brief—and Pringle is No.2.

“Now’s a great time to be hiring,” said Tor Myhren, Grey N.Y. chief creative officer and president. “We have some good momentum and we’ve had some pop culture creative hits over the past year like the Manning brothers for DirecTV (Sunday Ticket).”

The agency’s creative ranks have now grown to about 320 people, a far cry from when Myhren joined Grey N.Y. in 2007, when there was just under 70 creative people and very few of them working with digital. (Grey now employs 180 digital staffers compared to fewer than a dozen in 2007.) The staff ratio between account people to creative staffers was then 2.5 to 1. Myhren has it now nearly at parity. Of the 239 new employees hired at Grey N.Y. this year, 94 have been added to the creative department.

Reflecting the growth of those creative ranks, Myhren has also instituted the new position of group creative director. In the past month, he has promoted seven current execs to the new post. They are Leo Savage and Jeff Stamp, who helped run the Gillette pitch and now oversee the account; Sean Crane who has worked on the NFL, Febreze and Ortega tacos; and Joe Mongognia, who joined from Deutsch N.Y., where he oversaw PNC Bank. In addition, Fran Sheff-Mauer and Elaine McCormick, who worked on Energizer consumer brands before they shifted to JWT, have been named gcds, as has Michael Collins who has had oversight of brands like Robitussin, Advil Congestion Relief, Preparation H, Thermacare and German financial service clients Allianz and Allianz Global Investors.

Addressing the new hires and promotions, one-time copywriter Myhren says his focus is less on making ads and more on clients, strategy and, as Grey N.Y. president, figuring out the agency's future direction.

“There are so many good people here running things. Some of them do better work than me, so let them do it,” he said.